Home | News    Wednesday 8 July 2015

SPLM-N rebels reiterate calls for new peace process in Sudan

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July 7, 2015 (KHARTOUM) - The secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman, said his group won’t participate in a peace process designed to allow the regime win time and covers its crimes, pointing they wouldn’t start negotiations from where the last round of talks has stopped.

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SPLM-N secretary-general and chief negotiator speaks at the opening session of peace talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 13 February 2014 (Photo: AUHIP)

Arman stressed they are currently mobilizing internal, regional and international public opinion to launch a new peace process that tackles the two key issues: stopping the war and addressing the humanitarian crisis, and allowing freedoms.

“All this should be done within the framework of a clear mandate for the AU and is linked to a specified time frame,” he added in written statements released on Tuesday.

“We are not compelled to accept the old failed [negotiations] approaches… We wouldn’t relinquish the comprehensive solution and we wouldn’t accept partial solution … Our commitment to peace is a strategic one, it is peace that leads to change,” pointed out SPLM-N secretary-general.

Last November, the mediators of African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) organized direct talks between the warring parties in Two Areas aiming to reach a cessation of hostilities agreement and to pave the way for a preparatory meeting for the national dialogue with the participation of opposition forces to agree on the process issues and procedures.

However, the government refused to discuss the pre-dialogue issues with the rebel group and also refused the cessation of hostilities agreement saying what is needed is a cease-fire agreement including the disarmament and demobilization of its fighters in line with the peace agreement of 20005.

Since the beginning of the conflict in June 2011, Khartoum points to the non implementation of the disarmament process, pointing that any peace talks with the SPLM-N should start from where things stopped. The rebels retort that the DDR process had to start after the popular consultation which it should lead to establish a special territorial administration in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The SPLM-N official denied they set pre-conditions for the political settlement, saying they called for meeting requirements of the national dialogue such as stopping the war, allowing freedoms and creating conducive environment.

“There is no dialogue without freedoms, the dialogue we seek to achieve is not like the one called for by Mustafa Osman Isamil [ the head of the political sector of the ruling party], we demand balanced dialogue that leads to change, restructuring the Sudanese state and achieving national consensus,” he said.

He said that dialogue under the conditions of the National Congress Party (NCP) was meant to humiliate the opposition forces, pointing to the detention of the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) and the flogging of the political secretary of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) this week.

“Is this the [appropriate] environment that they are talking about? The dialogue of Mustafa Osman Ismail would only be accepted by my friend Aboud Jaber [member of the dialogue body of the government-led dialogue],” he added.

Arman stressed that president Omer al-Bashir didn’t take any strategic decision to stop the war and engage in a serious political process to address the root causes of the political crisis, accusing Bashir of seeking to create a political process controlled by himself and by his party.

He added that the real issue is not whether the dialogue would be held inside Sudan or abroad, pointing the regime signed several agreements outside Sudan including in Abuja, Asmara, Cairo, Nivasha, Djibouti, Ndjamena, Frankfurt and Doha.

“The problem is not about where the dialogue would take place but [whether the government] would agree to a balanced dialogue” he added.

Sudanese officials vowed to resume talks with the opposition and rebel groups about the national dialogue after the end Ramadan within nearly two weeks.

Last week the foreign minister met with AU representative in Sudan to notify him officially this decision with the hope that the AUHIP would resume its contact in this respect.

Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative a year and a half ago in which he urged opposition parties and rebels alike to join the dialogue table to discuss all the pressing issues.

But the initiative faced serious setbacks after the government refusal to create suitable atmosphere in the country.

The NUP and the Reform Now Movement (RNM) of Ghazi Salah al-Din Attabani suspended their participation in the dialogue process, claiming that the ruling party is not serious in its initiative for peace and democratic reforms.

In February 2015, the opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the alliance of rebel groups, Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF) and the NUP accepted to negotiate with the government on pre-dialogue measures before to join the internal process but the ruling party declined to meet them before the elections.

ATTACK AGAINST CIVILIANS IN S. KORDOFAN

Further, the SPLM-N secretary general has expressed readiness to receive a fact-finding commission from the African Union to investigate the killing of civilians near Talodi town in South Kordofan state.

Arman, said in his statements that Talodi is a war zone not a gold mining area, noting that people staying there are not civilians but militiamen allied with the government army.

On Sunday, the embassy of the United States of America (USA) in Khartoum issued a statement condemning a deadly attack on civilians in South Kordofan state last month by the fighters of the SPLM-N.

“We note with grave concern reports that on June 25 the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) attacked against civilians in gold mining areas near the town of Talodi, in Southern Kordofan state,’’ the statement read.

The attacks killed dozens of people and injured roughly 100 others as they gathered for morning prayers to begin their day of Ramadan fasting said the statement.

Arman said that information received about Talodi mines is provided by sources that don’t have first-hand information about the situation in the area, adding he doesn’t have detailed information on the incident.

He said the SPLM-N has nothing to hide and is demanding the AU High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) headed by Thabo Mbeki to form an investigation commission on humanitarian situation and human rights violations in the Two Areas including the Talodi incident.

Arman expressed his movement readiness to receive the probe commission and enables it to perform its tasks, asking the government to agree to investigate human rights situation and humanitarian conditions besides revealing aerial and ground atrocities committed against civilians.

BASHIR AND THE ISLAMISTS

The SPLM-N official downplayed Khartoum’s success to improve foreign relations, saying the regime didn’t resolve the core issues pertaining to terrorism, International Criminal Court (ICC), economic sanctions and stopping the war.

He pointed that normalization of ties with the international community wouldn’t be achieved without meeting the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

“[Normalization of ties] takes more than the distribution of smiles and soft lies by the foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour. Smiles don’t help with the international order”, Arman said.

Arman stressed that the government wouldn’t benefit from its participation in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen unless Bashir gets rid of the Islamists.

“The question [of getting rid of the Islamists] was posed to Bashir by [Arab Gulf leaders] and no one would answer it but him. It is obvious that Bashir deals with contradictions that [could only be resolved by magicians]. He could not satisfy [the Islamists leader] Hassan al-Turabi and the neighbouring countries simultaneously”, he noted.

Arman further pointed that the neighbouring nations seek to get rid of the Islamic Movement (IM) while Turabi wants to establish a new one to rule Sudan until the end of the century, saying that Bashir must choose between them.

On Monday, Turabi was quoted as saying there are efforts to form a new political body that goes beyond traditional political divisions of opposition and government parties as it should only focus on rule of the religion in Sudan.

He added that Turabi knows that the regime is irreparable, saying that establishing a new IM that derives its support from the army and the state’s power is a failed project.

However, Arman said they wouldn’t mind to engage in dialogue with the Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Turabi and all the Islamists to agree on the agenda for the desired change and to remove the totalitarian regime.

The PCP split from the NCP since 1999 and was strong in its opposition to the government during the past 13 years. However, Turabi’s stance towards Bashir’s regime gradually changed from backing Darfur rebel groups to a supporter of a negotiated settlement since January 2014 when the government launched the national dialogue initiative.

(ST)

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